It’s a well-known fact that eating right before bed isn’t the best idea. Your body needs time to digest and process whatever you’ve eaten, and going to sleep right after a snack may cause some issues.
Did you know that certain foods are best avoided before sleep? These foods can cause poor sleep quality, reduced deep sleep and even bad dreams. So what foods will ruin a good night’s sleep? Keep reading to find out!
Spicy and Acidic Foods
You might love a spicy curry or Mexican dish right before bed or even covering your meal in tomato sauce, but despite the health benefits of spicy or acidic food, it’s not the best thing for your sleep or your stomach. Avoid eating spicy and acidic food before bed, especially if you experience hyperacidity or a sensitive digestive system.
Spicy foods and other acidic foods are known to cause heartburn and acid reflux, and your body’s reaction to these is amplified when you’re lying down. This is why experts recommend waiting 2-3 hours before lying down if you suffer from heartburn.
Having heartburn while in bed can be very uncomfortable and often leads to a night of restless sleep. Simply put, spicy bedtime snacks and treats are the worst foods for maintaining sleep patterns.
Spicy food also increases your body’s core temperature. You actually want to reduce your overall body temperature when winding down, so this is counterproductive for quality sleep.
If you experience heartburn while lying in bed, an age-old trick is to sleep on your left side, preventing stomach acid from rising to your esophagus.
Who doesn’t love some dessert after dinner or as a late-night treat? Unfortunately, having sweets and sugary treats right before bedtime can quickly spike up your insulin levels and mess up your natural sleep cycle, also known as your circadian rhythm.
Your body’s natural insulin surges occur during the latter part of your sleep, and having a blood sugar spike before bed may affect your body’s way of repairing itself.
On the other hand, some studies suggest that carbohydrates can lead to increased production of tryptophan and serotonin, substances that can help you sleep faster. Not all carbs are wrong when you’re trying to hit the sack early.
Snacking on sweets or desserts such as lollies or ice cream can also give you an energy boost, making it difficult for you to fall asleep.
If you’re looking at less sugary options like dark chocolate, unfortunately, those are rich in theobromine which has very similar effects to caffeine. Your best is to eat whatever desserts you like, but leave plenty of time between eating and sleeping. Plus, moderation is key! You wouldn’t want the nightmare of having excessively high blood sugar levels!
We know alcohol isn’t food, but it’s something most people drink with a meal at the end of a long day. Maybe you’ve had a few beers with your burgers or some wine on a steak night; you don’t need the learned opinion of a nutritionist to know that these can give you some late-night troubles.
Alcohol intake leads to dehydration, and if you haven’t been drinking enough water, this may cause discomforts such as a dry throat or muscle cramps in the middle of the night.
Depending on how much alcohol you consume, waking up could be another problem you could face after a big night. Don’t forget about the hangover you might have to nurse the next day. So, given the option, it’s best to avoid having more than just a nightcap, especially when you want a good night’s sleep.
If you don’t have an intolerance to dairy products, then you’re mostly fine. But, if you do, then you should avoid having dairy or any cheesy late-night snacks. You’d be surprised how many people are sensitive to dairy, including minor sensitivities. If you are lactose intolerant, sleep-inducing, cheese is not.
Having an intolerance to dairy products causes some unwanted effects on your body when consuming food items like cheese. It’s not unusual to experience gassiness and bloating, making it uncomfortable to fall asleep.
Another thing to know about cheese is that it’s rich in an amino acid called tyramine. Tyramine increases norepinephrine production, which puts your mind in an alert state, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Everyone knows what caffeine does to your body – it wakes you up, gives you a boost of energy, and makes you more alert. Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep you awake at night when taken before bed.
Since being awake is the last thing you need when dealing with sleep disorders, it’s imperative to remove this from your pre-bedtime routine as soon as possible!
Some people can sleep after drinking a cup of coffee at night, but unfortunately, most people can’t. Try to have your last caffeine intake at least 6 hours before your intended bedtime so your quality of sleep isn’t affected and you fall asleep at a reasonable time.
Other caffeine-rich drinks you should consider avoiding before sleep are soft drinks, energy drinks, and even green tea. As much as tea has a calming effect, many kinds of tea leaves are rich in caffeine, although the amount is much lower than coffee.
Oily or fatty foods are also on a dietitian’s list of ABSOLUTELY not the best foods to eat before bedtime, especially as a late-night snack. Not only are they bad for your health, but eating oily, fried food can also cause acid reflux and heartburn during sleep.
It’s also not unusual to experience bloating and indigestion when snacking on fatty food. It’s best to eat them sparingly.
Although lean meats are a good source of protein and other nutrients, having a high-protein meal before bedtime, just like with fatty food, can cause bloating. Meat takes the longest time to digest, which can cause indigestion and make it hard for you to catch some zzzs.
Eat Healthy Before Bed!
With the knowledge of the foods to avoid before bed, it’s time for you to be mindful and watchful of the things you eat. It might sound simple, but avoiding these foods at night not only improves your sleep quality but also has a host of health benefits. You can always eat these foods in moderation a few hours before bedtime, and you should have a night of uninterrupted sleep.
These are just some foods to avoid, but overall, the secret to wellness and better sleep is to just have a balanced diet and live a healthy lifestyle.